What is fair ‘wear and tear’ in respect of furniture?
Damage to furniture and wear and tear beyond reasonable use are common complaints by landlords. However, while many of these complaints are genuine and in need of redress, landlords very often leave themselves in a weak position by failing to supply evidence. Where furniture is allegedly damaged photographs are necessary and moreover they should be dated and taken either before or immediately after the tenant leaves the dwelling. If furniture has to be replaced – proper and dated invoices should be furnished to the adjudicator. All this is in the interest of fair procedures and justice.
Landlords do have the right to inspect the premises or rented dwelling and very often fail to exercise this right. Section 16C of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 provides this right. If a landlord senses that matters are not going well he or she should make arrangements with the tenant to inspect the premises and preferably before the expiry of the tenancy.
An inventory of household items is recommended and should be signed by the landlord and tenant and dated. When a house is rented to a family with young children it is more likely than not that there will be wear and tear problems.
The question of what normal wear and tear is not easy to define and people may have their own subjective views on the subject. Legal dictionaries indicate that normal wear and tear occurs where deterioration of the subject matter takes place over a period of time due to ordinary and reasonable use of the premises. Blacks Dictionary 5th edition states that “wear and tear means deterioration or depreciation in the value of the subject matter by ordinary and reasonable use”.
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